Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

The Homework Revolution This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

A young girl sits at her desk, reviewing her homework assignments for the evening. English: read three chapters and write a journal response. Math: complete 30 problems, showing all work. Science: do a worksheet, front and back. French: study vocabulary for tomorrow's test. It's going to be a long night.

This describes a typical weeknight for students across the country. Now is the time to start a homework revolution.

Do students in the United States receive too much homework? According to guidelines endorsed by the National Education Association (NEA), a student should be assigned no more than 10 minutes per grade level per night. For example, a first grader should only have 10 minutes of homework, a second grader, 20 minutes, and so on. This means that a student in my grade – seventh – should have no more than 70 minutes of work each night. Yet this is often doubled, sometimes even tripled!

There are negatives to overloading students. Have you ever heard of a child getting sick because of homework? According to William Crain, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at City College of New York and the author of Reclaiming Childhood, “Kids are developing more school-related stomachaches, headaches, sleep problems, and depression than ever before.” The average student is glued to his or her desk for almost seven hours a day. Add two to four hours of homework each night, and they are working a 45- to 55-hour week!

In addition, a student who receives excessive homework “will miss out on active playtime, essential for learning social skills, proper brain development, and warding off childhood obesity,” according to Harris Cooper, Ph.D., a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University.

Everybody knows that teachers are the ones who assign homework, but they do not deserve all the blame. “Many teachers are under greater pressure than ever before,” says Kylene Beers, president of the National Council for Teachers of English and the author of When Kids Can't Read What Teachers Can Do. “Some of it comes from parents, some from the administration and the desire for high scores on standardized tests.” Teachers who are under pressure feel the need to assign more homework. But why aren't teachers aware of the NEA homework recommendations? Many have never heard of them, have never taken a course about good versus bad homework, how much to give, and the research behind it. And many colleges of education do not offer specific training in homework. Teachers are just winging it.

Although some teachers and parents believe that assigning a lot of homework is beneficial, a Duke University review of a number of studies found almost no correlation between homework and long-term achievements in elementary school and only a moderate correlation in middle school. “More is not better,” concluded Cooper, who conducted the review.

Is homework really necessary? Most teachers assign homework as a drill to improve memorization of material. While drills and repetitive exercises have their place in schools, homework may not be that place. If a student does a math worksheet with 50 problems but completes them incorrectly, he will likely fail the test. According to the U.S. Department of Education, most math teachers can tell after checking five algebraic equations whether a student understood the necessary concepts. Practicing dozens of homework problems incorrectly only cements the wrong method.

Some teachers believe that assigning more homework will help improve standardized test scores. However, in countries like the Czech Republic, Japan, and Denmark, which have higher-scoring students, teachers give little homework. The United States is among the most homework-intensive countries in the world for seventh and eighth grade, so more homework clearly does not mean a higher test score.

Some people argue that homework toughens kids up for high school, college, and the workforce. Too much homework is sapping students' strength, curiosity, and most importantly, their love of learning. Is that really what teachers and parents want?

If schools assign less homework, it would benefit teachers, parents, and students alike. Teachers who assign large amounts of homework are often unable to do more than spot-check answers. This means that many errors are missed. Teachers who assign less homework will be able to check it thoroughly. In addition, it allows a teacher time to focus on more important things. “I had more time for planning when I wasn't grading thousands of problems a night,” says math teacher Joel Wazac at a middle school in Missouri. “And when a student didn't understand something, instead of a parent trying to puzzle it out, I was there to help them.” The result of assigning fewer math problems: grades went up and the school's standardized math scores are the highest they've ever been. A student who is assigned less homework will live a healthy and happy life. The family can look forward to stress-free, carefree nights and, finally, the teachers can too.

Some schools are already taking steps to improve the issue. For example, Mason-Rice Elementary School in Newton, Massachusetts, has limited homework, keeping to the “10 minute rule.” Raymond Park Middle School in Indianapolis has written a policy instructing teachers to “assign homework only when you feel the assignment is valuable.” The policy also states, “A night off is better than homework which serves no worthwhile purpose.” Others, such as Oak Knoll Elementary School in Menlo Park, California, have considered eliminating homework altogether. If these schools can do it, why can't everyone?

So, my fellow Americans, it's time to stop the insanity. It's time to start a homework revolution.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

Join the Discussion

This article has 812 comments. Post your own now!

Nate said...
Feb. 6 at 12:03 pm
There should be no homework
Kai S. said...
Feb. 6 at 12:02 pm
I agree with this but like Nick said this does not apply to everyone.
pizzaqueen said...
Feb. 6 at 12:01 pm
homewokr? ew.
1234 said...
Feb. 6 at 12:01 pm
I have about an hour of hw very night, hw is very bad for your brain
Nick said...
Feb. 4 at 12:02 pm
I have 20 minutes of homework every night. I'm in 8th grade. SO this does not apply to everyone
Anonymous said...
Feb. 4 at 12:00 pm
I think homework is good but too much is bad.
Nate said...
Feb. 4 at 11:59 am
Homework is torture
KaydieThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Sept. 26, 2014 at 1:08 pm
That is call hitting the nail on the head,Someone's got to speak up.Sometimes m,I spend my night doing assignments and hardly get some sleep.The next day,I am supposed to go back to school and spend over ten hours learning,Very soon,students will develop hypertension,This article shouldn't just end here but it must become a must read for educational institutions worldwide.
irena23 said...
May 30, 2014 at 11:24 pm
I think it honestly depends on the homework being assigned. I agree that some homework is unecessary and tedious, but without it we wouldn't be able to actually apply the concepts taught during school.
deepthiThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Feb. 23, 2014 at 7:47 am
A tight schedule of homework may spoil the child psychologically and physically.Firstly child has to play for certain hours after school in order to get relaxation and to keep them fit.Secondly, a chid has to sleep for more than 8 hrs a day to be mentally fit and for a stress free life.Finally the child has to allot certain time for its hobbies.But a tight schedule of homework does not give time for all the above activities.So surely a homework revolutin should be made for the welfare of the children
The_Typewriter said...
Jan. 10, 2014 at 7:36 pm
If people are complaining about homework, I just have to wonder what they would say with my life. I have 5+ hours of homework every night, get home at 5 pm, and leave for school at 6:50 am. Then I rarely go to sleep before 1 am. Going to sleep at 11 pm is nearly impossible. And it is a "good" night if I'm asleep at midnight. This also excludes everything that a normal high schooler would want to do with their life: write, draw, participate in theatre productions, attend debate meet... (more »)
ryansee12 said...
Dec. 17, 2013 at 5:21 pm
I totally agree with what the author is trying to say i am a freshman at indian river charter high school in vero beach and i constantly have at least 2 hours of homework or more every night and my mom constantly asks me why i have so much homework and i ask my self the same question every night.
Velezbianca23 said...
Oct. 15, 2013 at 3:39 pm
I student get to much homework for one night. Teachers don't even care how much hw we get for other classes. They just care about their subject.
ryansee12 replied...
Dec. 17, 2013 at 5:25 pm
i totally agree i am a freshman at indian river charter high school in vero beach florida and teachers dont know about other subjects and other homework they onle care about their subject.
nathana35 said...
Oct. 15, 2013 at 3:35 pm
Students shouldn't get homework everyday cause some people have other things to do. Also students shouldn't get no more than one hour of homework a night.
Ms. P. said...
Oct. 15, 2013 at 3:33 pm
I agree that homework should not be assigned necessarily every day. Long-term assignments and projects seem to track students' progress better.
EnriqueY59 said...
Oct. 15, 2013 at 3:32 pm
I don't agree with this article, I feel that students need to suck it up and get there homework done
hatehatters replied...
Nov. 11, 2013 at 8:13 pm
EnriqueY59 is a total **** to say that
yoyo replied...
Dec. 8, 2013 at 10:21 pm
I disagree with you. I think that students SHOULD be given a fair amount of homework to make sure they understand what's being taught in class and practice, but too much can be harmful and can interfere with a student's social life and growth.
Bree said...
Oct. 15, 2013 at 3:32 pm
I think that some homework is okay because it helps you understand the work on your own. But too much homework is stressful and it's very difficult to do all the work in one night and do the other things you need to do like shower or eat or talk to your family. It gets stressful and too much work would drain students and then they just won't do the work at all.
Site Feedback